Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool took a huge step in their bid to secure a spot in the semi-finals of the Champions League last night, with the Reds running out 3-1 winners over Benfica at the Estadio da Luz.
Indeed, goals from Ibrahima Konate, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz were enough to seal victory over the third-placed Primeira Liga outfit, with Liverpool now boasting a two-goal cushion heading into the second leg of the tie at Anfield next week.
In terms of individual displays, although Diaz’s goal and assist will likely see the 25-year-old steal the headlines on Wednesday morning, it will have undoubtedly been the performance of Naby Keita that will have most pleased Klopp – as the central midfielder stole the show against the Eagles.
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Indeed, over the course of his 89 minutes on the pitch, the £27m-rated dynamo hardly put a foot wrong, enjoying 106 touches of the ball – the most of any player on the night – completing 72 passes – two of which were key – creating two big chances, completing three dribbles and taking four shots at the Benfica goal – not to mention setting up Diaz’s goal with a surging run from the middle of the park before playing an inch-perfect ball through to the Colombian, who cooly slotted home.
However, it was not only in a creative capacity in which the £130k-per-week Guinea international impressed, as the 27-year-old also did his fair share of dirty work, making five tackles – the most of any Liverpool player – one interception, committing and drawing two fouls and winning ten duels.
These returns saw the player who Malick Kebe – Keita’s agent – claimed “is a playmaker, not a scavenger” earn a quite remarkable SofaScore match rating of 7.9, ranking him as the second-best player to feature in the clash, behind Diaz.
As such, considering how sparingly Keita has featured so far this season – playing just under 1400 minutes of first-team football – the midfielder’s display against Benfica will certainly have put the cat amongst the pigeons at the AXA Training Centre, as the Guinean will have done himself no harm in his bid to prove that he deserves a place in Klopp’s starting XI against Manchester City this weekend.